The observance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2008 is a reminder to all that the scourge of gender-based violence remains a reality in the lives of many women in the world today.
It stands as a major cause of death and disability among women aged 15 to 44 years and, according to United Nations estimates, at least one out of every three women in the world is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime, usually by someone known to her.
In the Caribbean, women continue to be stabbed, chopped, shot, raped, maimed, assaulted and victims of other forms of violent acts. It is therefore imperative that successful interventions are sustained and previously unexplored proposals examined in order to bring an end to this appalling and dehumanising practice.
The lingering scourge of violence against women calls us to look anew at the state of our society today and to consider that which we wish to become.
It is impossible to ignore the fact that a number of the social challenges which we face interconnect and that violence is usually an external manifestation of deep-seated anger and a sense of hopelessness among other factors.
The effects of violence against women are far reaching and impact the very heart of family life. The psychological and physical damage is ultimately felt by the society as a whole.
As a faith-based organisation, we wish to draw attention to a dimension in this issue which, though often overlooked, is central to the search for a long-lasting solution.
The Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) is of the view that a fundamental change of perception, grounded primarily and firmly in respect for the life and dignity of all human beings as reflecting the image and likeness of the Creator God, is essential to confronting all forms of violence, and gender-based violence in particular.
It is therefore crucial for FBOs and like-minded organisations to offer their members the tools through which they can better appreciate that their value as a human being exceeds by far that which could ever be defined by their circumstances.
We support ongoing analysis of gender-based violence and urge the full implementation of legislation and policies at all levels to combat this scourge.
We encourage all efforts being made at the community and national levels to foster more constructive attitudes among young people towards peaceful settlement of conflicts and to reject completely any tolerance for violent behaviour.
We call for help for troubled relationships and greater assistance and services for women seeking protection and a way out of an abusive situation. We also call for greater resources to be allocated to deal with this problem and for all persons to recognise that eliminating violence against women has to be a shared responsibility.
The CCC will seek to strengthen its own gender-based interventions in keeping with its mandate to promote social change in obedience to the Gospel and in solidarity with the vulnerable, and urges all its member churches to act in similar fashion.
At the international level, we commend the launch of the global campaign by the United Nations Secretary General in March of this year, UNiTE to End Violence against Women, which will conclude in 2015, coinciding with the target for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
We celebrate the survivors of violence by renewing our commitment to the elimination of violence against women.
We applaud the tireless efforts of those women and advocates – both within and outside of FBOs - who have worked and continue to do so at the grass roots, national and global levels to bring about a world in which violence against women will be forever eliminated from our culture and society.
Gerard A. J. Granado
Caribbean Conference of Churches
November 24, 2008